Abel Ruiz - The next big thing from La Masia
The fabled La Masia, youth academy of FC Barcelona has undoubtedly been the production house for the majority of talents playing for the Catalan club. Legends like Leo Messi, Andres Iniesta, Victor Valdes and Gerard Pique have the La Masia name on their CV. It was Johan Cruyff's ideology that sparked the idea regarding the youth academy.
Throughout the years, La Masia has been regarded as one of the finest youth academies of all time. The Masia ideology and Barca attacking flair complement each other to develop an unbeatable force. Pep Guardiola used the Masia talent to collect his world-conquering squad.
However, to the frustration of Barcelona fans, the talent list at the Masia has considerably dried off. Fans have been eager to witness another superstar graduate from the academy, but the ambitions aren't helped by the Board's lack of reliance on the youth system.
Amidst all the controversies regarding the Youth System and Barcelona's Board, stands 17-year-old Abel Ruiz Ortega, captain of the Spanish U-17 side. Ruiz was included in the youth system as a 12-year-old from Valencia's academy. Barca has lost some of their brightest prospects this year because of a significant lack of chances with the first team, with sensational winger Jordi Mboula leaving for Monaco and Eric Garica moving to Manchester City.
A player of Barcelona B, Abel Ruiz has a remarkable tally of 27 goals for his National side in just 37 games. The young gun is yet to feature in the U-19 and U-20 levels of football but has already made an early mark on football fanatics. Ruiz idolises Polish forward Robert Lewandowski, and like the former, the young gun certainly has all the abilities to develop into a threatening Number-9. Ruiz is the youngest player in Gerard Lopez's Barcelona B squad. Standing six-foot tall, Ruiz is a deadly finisher and magnificent header of the ball.
"I am a direct player. A good finisher." -Abel Ruiz
Deadly in front of the goal, calm on the ball, and swift with his passing, Abel Ruiz's talents have attracted suitors from all over the world including the likes of Pep Guardiola's Manchester City and Conte's Chelsea, but the youngster has decided to keep his faith in his boyhood club. Arsenal has also been highly linked with the starlet and is reported to be desperate regarding Ruiz's future at the Emirates Stadium.
Ruiz is a natural Central-forward but has the abilities to grace the flanks as well. Ruiz's abilities have led the Spanish U-17 side to European glory. Abel is the most capped player in the Spanish U-17 side ever and certainly, would grab a place for himself in the first team soon. Ruiz scored his first professional goal for the Catalans on 1 September 2017, in a 2–2 draw against Granada CF.
"I've been told a lot of times that I remind people of Van Basten." -Abel Ruiz
The U-17 World Cup hosted by India acted as a perfect stage for Ruiz to demonstrate his abilities and the Spaniard didn't miss the opportunity. Ortega scored six goals in the tournament and propelled Spain to the finals, which they lost to England. Abel Ruiz eventually earned the Silver Boot. The Spaniard has numerous record under his belts including the most goals scored in the European U-17 Championship, the tournament through which Andres Iniesta first came into the limelight.
"I love the challenge of scoring for the team and want to get more goals for the team." -Abel Ruiz
Luis Suarez's concerning dip in form alongside the Uruguayan's age-related problems are certain to open up the Pistolero's spot in the team to be grabbed by a new talent. Ruiz would be keen to grab onto the opportunity and cement his name in Barcelona's record books. Abel Ruiz's path to Ernesto Valverde's squad is quite clear.